The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s soccer remains undefeated, draws Illinois

Iowa senior midfielder Kelli McGroarty propelled the Hawkeyes to the tie after trailing all game.
Sara Stumpff
Iowa forward Kelli McGroarty runs to the ball during a women’s soccer game between Iowa and Southeast Missouri State at The University of Iowa’s Soccer Complex on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Redhawks, 4-0.

The Iowa women’s soccer team kicked off Big Ten play with a 1-1 draw against Illinois at the Iowa Soccer Complex on Sunday. 

Iowa opened its season with a 6-0-1 record prior to the draw — its best start since 2019 — including a win over Mississippi State and draw with No. 18 Virginia. 

But the Hawkeyes have started Big Ten competition off in a sort of middle ground with the draw against the 4-2-2 Fighting Illini.

“I think this was a good lesson for us today,” Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni said. “Everybody is good, and the margin for error is small, so the details are really important.”

The Hawkeyes found themselves down at half and struggled to score on the chances they created — with Illinois’ senior goalkeeper Julia Cili making nine saves in the match. 

But Iowa senior midfielder Kelli McGroarty propelled the Hawkeyes through with a late equalizer hitting the back of the net after a cross from junior forward Elle Otto.

“Obviously, it feels really good to get a goal anytime and be able to tie it up,” McGroarty said. “[I was] very motivated coming in [to the second half] because we wanted to get that point back.”

Back and forth

Iowa had some chances to go ahead early in the match, finding space on the right wing for junior forward Kenzie Roling to run through, but the Hawkeyes couldn’t convert on their chances. Although Roling remained aggressive in attack, getting two shots off, she couldn’t get one past the Illinois keeper.

Illinois also had several opportunities in the opening half to score, testing Iowa senior goalkeeper Macy Enneking with several crosses into the box that Enneking would ultimately punch away.

It was a physical first 20 minutes for the Hawkeyes, who were called for five fouls in the stretch, and that gave the Fighting Illini some promising free kicks in the attacking third.

But the determined Iowa defense held the game to nil-nil.

With 15 minutes to go in the first half, Illinois’ Makena Silber caught Macy Enneking out of position, and the Fighting Illini broke the deadlock and took a 1-0 lead that they carried into the half. But the Hawkeyes went into halftime with the shots and possession statistics favoring their side.

Second half comeback

With the clock on its side, Illinois took its time in possession, passing the ball around the back line and running the clock down when it could. The Fighting Illini didn’t create many scoring opportunities but were content in keeping the Iowa attack at bay. 

Iowa was soon able to hit Illinois on a counter attack but struggled with the finishing touches, Otto getting the only shot on goal. 

The Hawkeyes maintained the pressure after Otto’s shot, though, finding more shots on goal from freshman midfielder Sofia Bush and freshman forward Sophie Kincaid. 

In the final 10 minutes of the second half, Iowa shifted to an all-out attack, pushing members of its back line higher up the pitch, and the tactical change paid off with McGroarty scoring a header with just under seven minutes to go in the match, tying it at 1-1.

“I think this is the healthiest we’ve been all season,” DiIanni said. “It gives us a lot of flexibility going forward.”

After the goal, both Iowa and Illinois were desperate for a goal, both teams creating chances at the end of the match, but neither team was able to find a game winner. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Bigger picture

Despite opening the Big Ten play up with a draw, the Hawkeyes remain undefeated this season and are still in good position to make the Big Ten Tournament. 

The Iowa defense remained firm and has allowed just two goals all season. 

“It’s a tie, and ties suck,” senior captain Samantha Cary said. “But I am beyond proud of this team that when things weren’t going our way, we fought, and the goal that we scored is a direct example of who we are on the field, that we’re not going to toll over and give up.”

But although Iowa had 15 shots during the match against Illinois, the Hawkeyes will need to convert more of those into goals. 

“We’re really close to scoring a lot of goals,” Roling said. “It’s just making them clean and knowing that we can convert.”

Still, junior forward Meike Ingles continues to miss time with an undisclosed injury. She played and scored in Iowa’s opening game against Florida Gulf Coast but has missed seven straight since then. 

DiIanni said there’s no timetable for her return but did say junior midfielder Addie Bundy is on track to make her season debut next weekend and will give the team some flexibility in the midfield. 

Up next

Iowa will play its second game in the Big Ten when it takes on the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 21. 

“Playing Wisconsin at Wisconsin is never an easy thing,” Cary said. “But [Iowa head] coach Dave [DiIanni] just reminded us that we’ve had some of the best results in the conference against them there.”

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About the Contributors
Isaac Elzinga
Isaac Elzinga, Sports Reporter
Isaac Elzinga is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass communication. This is his first year working at The Daily Iowan; he also works as a producer for 1600 ESPN a sports radio station in Cedar Rapids.
Sara Stumpff
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.